My political awakening didn’t arrive until my 34th year when a young state senator from Illinois blew the roof off the Democratic National Convention, went on to capture a US Senate seat a mere two years later and the Oval Office two years after that. That he was the first black president was only icing on the cake. It was such an inspiring moment in this political neophyte’s life that even though I was a Dennis Kucinich primary voter in 2008, I joined the millions of Republicans who put Obama over the top to help change the GOP from the inside.
That experiment in insanity ended in 2010, but even Aaron Sorkin wouldn’t have written that shit on a bet.
Every two years, twice a year, we dismiss our chance to flip the script by which this country operates and then bitch incessantly that nothing ever changes. House members are vulnerable with metronomic frequency, yet most Americans stay home on primary election day and proudly declare, “I’m not into politics!” as if it were some sort of excuse for neglecting our duty as citizens. It’s even more tragic when you consider the average turnout for midterm (non-presidential) primaries is in the teens.
We consistently allow incumbent Congress critters an easy waltz to certain victory in the general election where midterm turnout hasn’t topped 40-percent since 1970.
Next year is statistically-set to be another missed opportunity to wreak wholesale change in the power structure in the House and thus Washington DC as a whole. Starting in Texas, a pathetic number of us (well under ten percent would be my guess) will actually pay attention to the primary election coverage, such as it is, before joining a handful of America’s seniors in turning out to vote for our party. The 2014 primary schedule will thus meander across all 50 states and into the fall until a Hobson’s Choice presents itself in November.
Catchy tune, huh?
In the nine years since a blinding flash of the obvious woke me up, I dove into our history as a nation — how we got from there to here and all the amazing and horrific moments in between. The missed opportunities started before the ink was even dry on the Declaration of Independence when we claimed equality for all men and took that pledge to mean all white men who owned land. More than 230 years later, the American Dream largely belongs in the hands of that select demographic with notable exceptions for exceptional women and non-white citizens.
We are guaranteed by law the right to self determination and choose to ignore that power as unimportant and irrelevant.
Over the last several decades, the changing nature of politicians and our pathological neglect as citizens has led to institutionalized corruption on a massive scale that is nonetheless entirely legal. It’s not some great conspiracy and it’s not exactly unprecedented. Nature abhors a vacuum and the American people left one gaping right at the center of our democracy when we decided voting was for suckers and fools and geeks. Of course, special interests (both malignant and benign) would move in and seize the levers of power.
That critical weakness in the current paradigm is just sitting there waiting to be exploited.
I don’t care if you are a democrat or a republican or an independent. I have been all three depending on where I lived and whether or not it was an open primary. Without fail, there is someone running against the incumbent who makes the most sense on the most issues. He or she may even sound reasonable to moderates of the other party. I suspect it won’t be the incumbent, though we need to get over the idea that “our guy” isn’t really the problem in Washington. This fight is Us versus Them, not Democrat versus Republican.
If you live in a red district and usually skip the primary because you are a democrat, register as a republican instead and vote for the candidate who seems the least repellant. If you live in a blue district, register as a democrat and do the same thing if you are a republican. All change is local and all primary elections are rigged for the incumbent candidate and party. We need to be more strategic in how we practice politics rather than casting “conscious” votes in general election battles that were lost to gerrymandering of districts before they ever began.
For nine long years, I have been speaking with Americans of all political persuasions about what makes them tick. As far as I can tell, most of us agree on just about everything with regards to society and government with the exception of Guns, God and Gays. I say leave that shit up to the Supreme Court for now, despite the many flaws inherent to that branch of government, and get to the task of voting as many rascals out of the House of Representatives as we can next year. Rinse and repeat two years later during the presidential election.
Politicians are perpetually vulnerable to the will of the American people should we finally choose to wield it.